Who “Invented” Rolfing®?
“Rolfing”—a.k.a. “Structural Integration”—is a system of whole-body alignment and organization of musculoskeletal structure developed by Ida P. Rolf, Ph.D
Ida. P. Rolf was a pioneer. Born in the Bronx, N.Y., in 1896, she received her doctorate in bio chemistry from the Columbia University College of Physicians and Surgeons in 1920. She was, to say the least, one of few women at that time pursuing advanced education.
For 12 years after Columbia University, Dr. Rolf worked in the departments of chemotherapy and organic chemistry at the renowned Rockefeller Institute for Medical Research, attaining the position of Associate Professor. She studied atomic physics and mathematics at the Swiss Technical University in Zurich and homeopathic medicine in Geneva.
Check out a youtube video featuring Ida P. Rolf herself:
Over the next decade, Dr. Rolf applied her knowledge of science and wellness to seek answers to the health concerns of her loved ones. Unwilling to accept the limitations of medicine at the time, Dr. Rolf embraced a wide range of approaches including osteopathy, chiropractic medicine, and mind-body disciplines such as yoga, the Alexander Technique, and Alfred H.S. Korzybski’s study of consciousness.
Bringing together such a rich variety of perspectives, Dr. Rolf discovered that she could achieve remarkable changes in posture and structure by manipulating the body’s myofascial system. Dr. Rolf eventually named her body of work “Structural Integration” – a holistic system of soft tissue manipulation and movement education that organizes the whole body in gravity.
Recipients found the work dramatically altered posture and structure. Increasingly, people sought out Dr. Rolf to receive Structural Integration as a way to ease pain, address chronic stress, and improve performance in their daily activities.
Dr. Rolf’s ambition to bring Structural Integration to as many people as possible took her all over the world. She spent a great deal of time at Esalen in Big Sur during the heyday of the Human Potential movement. Her colleagues and clients included Dr. Fritz Perls, the founder of Gestalt Therapy. Her desire was to teach future generations the fruit of her life’s work. Dr. Rolf dedicated the rest of her life to developing and teaching the system of body structural organization that was to bear her name.
In the mid-1960s, Dr. Rolf established the Guild for Structural Integration with a three-fold mission: to train practitioners, educate the public, and promote research. The Rolf Institute for Structural Integration was established in 1971. Both schools are located in Boulder, CO. The term “Rolfing®” and “Rolfer™” are trademarks owned exclusively by the Rolf Institute of Structural Integration™ in Boulder, CO. Students who graduate with certification training from the Rolf Institute are “Rolfers.”
Lynn Cohen, owner of Rolfworks in Los Angeles, is a Certified Rolfer. She attended both the Guild for Structural Integration and the Rolf Institute for Structural Integration in Boulder, CO.
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